A haunting, fast-paced war memoir, Chasing Alexander is Christopher Martin’s account of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A failing college student obsessed with Alexander the Great, Martin enlists in the US Marines to become a different sort of man, a man like Alexander. From his difficulty at boot camp to his disappointing deployment to Iraq, Martin fears he may never follow in Alexander’s footsteps.
Then, after a strategy change, Martin and his unit arrive in Marjah, “the bleeding ulcer” of Afghanistan. There he faces heat, fleas, and a hidden enemy. As the casualties mount, Martin struggles to control his emotions and his newfound sense of power. Chasing Alexander looks unflinchingly at the seductive side of war, and its awful consequences.
Martin’s captivating recollection of boot camp and his deployment transports the reader into his journey, inviting them to experience Martin’s own excitement and boredom, both the everyday grind of military life and the moments of tragedy. With tact and clarity, he writes of mentors, friends, family, and his unit, imbuing the material with a strong sense of authenticity while revealing himself to be both humble and ambitious. Martin has the keen ability to write to a lay reader without condescending to their knowledge of the American military, while simultaneously honoring the complexity of his subject.
The titular “chasing” of Alexander the Great draws deeply on the life of the Macedonian king, which has guided Martin from his college days to his boot camp trials and on, even in his return to civilian life. The thread reads smoothly; Martin’s biographical account of Alexander is thorough but does not bog down the impact of his own story. Martin is compelling when capturing both mundane and the trauma and hardship of a Marine’s existence, illuminating their grief, terror, and agony. With grit and sincerity, Martin will have readers who appreciate action-packed war stories and history marveling at this truly enjoyable memoir.
Takeaway: Fans of military stories will enjoy this compelling account of searching not only for the Taliban, but also for himself.
Great for fans of: Mark Owen’s No Easy Day, Michael J. MacLeod’s The Brave Ones.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Martin’s memoir is as thoughtful as it is lucid, and is written in a deeply personal, confessional style, probing and self-effacing.
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